Crime

Home invasion mastermind gets 25 years. Brutal robbery harmed Clovis children

Christopher Copeland, left, stands with attorney Kendall Simsarian during Copeland’s sentencing for home invasion robbery on Friday, Feb. 8, 2019.
Christopher Copeland, left, stands with attorney Kendall Simsarian during Copeland’s sentencing for home invasion robbery on Friday, Feb. 8, 2019. lgriswold@fresnobee.com

A man high on drugs who smashed a teen in the face during a home invasion robbery — an injury that required stitches to sew a split lip — was sentenced Friday to 25 years in state prison.

Christopher Copeland, 46, stood quietly during the sentencing proceeding in Fresno County Superior Court. His head was shaved and he was shackled.

Copeland had pleaded no contest to home invasion robbery.

He received a sentence longer than originally agreed to in a plea deal, after Judge James Kelley rejected it in September, citing the brutality of the crime.

The home invasion robbery and the attack showed “a high degree of cruelty,” Kelley said, making the deal no good: “I didn’t think it fully addressed the actions.”

On Dec. 14, 2013, Copeland and two friends — Gabriella Aguirre and Breanna Allen, both in their mid-20s at the time — were smoking methamphetamine when Copeland told them he wanted to do a “lick,” street slang for robbery.

clovishomeinvasion
Gabriella Aguirre (left), Christopher Michael Copeland and Breanna Allen were charged in a December 2013 home invasion robbery in Clovis. CLOVIS POLICE DEPARTMENT

Together, they went to a store and bought gloves and sunglasses, and Aguirre got a scarf to hide her face.

They then went to a Clovis home on Loyola Avenue near Shepherd and DeWolf avenues in Harlan Ranch. Aguirre knocked on the doors while the others hid. A 4-year-old opened the door. Copeland rushed in and the two women followed.

The parents were not home, but the children were.

“Where’s the safe,” Copeland asked the children, according to court records.

When a 17-year-old boy confronted Copeland, he hit him in the face with a handgun. Then he put his knee on the teen’s neck and used zip ties to bind his hands. He also used zip ties to bind the hands of the 4-year-old and a 13-year-old, and put duct tape over their eyes and mouths.

Copeland threatened the children and broke the boy’s cell phone. Once they left, the 13-year-old broke free of the restraints and helped the siblings, then called police.

Copeland, Aguirre and Allen were arrested months later.

Allen pled guilty and was sentenced to 12 years in prison, while Aguirre also pled guilty and agreed to testify against Copeland. She is in jail awaiting sentencing later this month.

Copeland pleaded no contest to home invasion robbery, while related charges were dropped. Kelley sentenced him to six years for the home invasion robbery, then doubled it under the state’s Three Strikes law. Copeland also was sentenced to 10 years for using a gun, and three years for great bodily injury.

He gets credit for 5 years in the county jail.

Defense attorney Kendall Simsarian said Copeland is “sorry for his actions. ... Mr. Copeland wants the family to know he was always willing to accept responsibility.”

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